Friday, October 26, 2012

Frugal Fall Living

Yesterday Fall-like weather returned to the Madison area.  Just as I was finishing up a day and a half of continuing legal education, the rain clouds moved in, the wind churned, and the temperatures began a downward descent from the upper 70s enjoyed by those not stuck in a hotel conference room learning about tax legislation in 2012!

Upon returning home mid-day, I resumed my other profession, Mama and Keeper of the Frugal Home.  Our normal routine had been thrown off this week due to the conference, pushing our weekly Trader Joe's run from Wednesday AM to Thursday PM.  Thankfully my 4 and 2 year old were up for the adventure.  We stocked up on our favorite TJ staples, handed over our payment in cash, and returned home.  For the past few months I have been operating mainly with cash, and feel very connected to exactly how much I spend on groceries.  I find I think twice before tossing in two of something on sale, etc.

Once home we decided to embrace the cooler weather by playing in the kitchen.  Spending time in the kitchen with a 4 and 2 year old can be....stressful.  However, once you've done it a number of times it is easier.  Plus, I feel it is vital to a frugal home.  First, it cuts way down on our purchases of processed food.  Second, it reduces fast food from take-out or delis.  And third, in the long-term it will generate two more individuals who will one day know the basics of meal preparation.

Our first experiment turned out to be a dud.  My son was requesting chocolate cake, and I attempted to modify the recipe to make it healthier.  Lots of almond meal, flax meal, and unsweetened coco.  Sadly I missed the mark and will not share the recipe with you.  Very dry, too dense, and a bit too much backing powder.  Oh well, it was fun.  The second endeavor turned out well, and was a repeat performance -- roasting pie pumpkins.  There were two on the counter, and they are now in my freezer.  I've written about this a lot, mainly because I roast and use them a lot.  Offering a mild taste and a whopping dose of vitamins and fiber, I try to incorporate them as much as possible.  And I do not buy canned pumpkin -- I roast and freeze my own.  Sadly my calendar tells me there are only two weeks left for our local farmers' market.  The pressure is on to freeze just a few more...to get us through until next Fall.

Too make the roasting as frugal as possible I put the first pumpkin on the lower rack, and placed an acorn squash on the top rack.  It, along with rice and sausage and avacado made for a tasty dinner.  As soon as the first hour was up, I put in the second pumpkin.  This allowed me to maximize an already warmed oven.  And once it was done my kids were tucked in bed so I was able to leave the oven door open...enjoying a bit of the heat dwindling in the kitchen.

And that is a glimpse into the day of a self-described frugalista.  My methods do not focus on buying as much stuff as possible for as little money as possible.  Efficiency with time and money are key concepts for me.  I feel quality far outweighs quantity.  It is not the stereotypical frugal life (I saw a news article about an extreme saver who opts for a jar instead of a toilet!), but it works for us.  As the year comes to an end we are still working on our savings goals.  And frugal choices will be essential as we work to meet our goals.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the weekend, and feel free to share your thoughts on frugal living.  What works, what doesn't, why should we care.

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